Bedlam: Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Theater, Shakespeare
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Bedlam: Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Photograph: Jenny Anderson

What You Will: Theater review by Sandy MacDonald

As if Shakespeare’s penchant for gender-bending weren’t challenge enough, Bedlam reassigns the dozen-odd roles of What You Will—its subtitular twist on Twelfth Night (which it performs, in a folksier version, on alternate nights)—to a mere five actors. Confused yet? You will be, but it’s all part of the fun.

The line grab permits gifted shape-shifter Andrus Nichols to toggle between the haughty countess Olivia and her brawling drunkard uncle, Sir Toby Belch. There’s no costume change: Looking like late–Joan Crawford with a savage slash of scarlet lipstick, Sir Toby retains the ’50s-style lace dress provided by Valérie T. Bart. Everyone’s dolled up in garden-party white, but they won’t remain pristine for long. That lipstick has a way of traveling mouth-to-mouth, and even the yellow of Malvolio’s infamous stockings, painted on by a properly snotty Edmund Lewis, won’t stay put. Newcomer Susannah Millonzi gives us a novel Maria (pinched and wonky), plus a touching Viola, whose first panicky utterance—“What country, friends, is this?”—sets the tone for emotional intensity.—Sandy MacDonald

Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (see Off Broadway). By William Shakespeare. Directed by Eric Tucker. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs. No intermission.

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Event website: http://theatrebedlam.org
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